From time to time, we all find ourselves wondering “should I change jobs?” It can happen when things at work are going badly, or even when they are going really well. It can happen when we see other people moving on, or when someone tells us about an exciting new opportunity.
So when that feeling strikes, how do you decide if you should start looking and take that leap?
There are many, many factors that are going to form part of your decision. So, instead of the broad issue of “should I change jobs?”, here are some more detailed questions that will help you work out what is best for you.
This question is first for a reason – its answer not only guides your decision right now, but also shapes what your next steps are going to be.
Is the way you are feeling the result of a bad day or has it been gradually building up for a while? One of my favourite ways to get to the heart of this is to consider how it feels when you think about walking into the office. Noticing how you react both physically and emotionally will give you some very valuable information on which to base your decision.
Additionally, you may want to consider how you feel about the company, what they do and how it feels to work there. How well do you get on with your colleagues and, very importantly, your boss? As leaders, we are the lens through which our teams see the company, but we also look through the lens provided by our own bosses.
Then there is your work. Does it motivate you? Are you rewarded adequately? Is your contribution recognised? Are you still learning and growing in the role?
Getting clear about your career motivations and aspirations will allow you to decide if your long-term future fits with the opportunities and possibilities in your current situation.
There are many ways to define and understand your career motivations, and a good place to start is to think about the times you felt best about your work. What do they have in common?
Typically, career motivations are made up of factors such as recognition (among your peers, through fame or financial reward), social interaction, independence, creative expression, intellectual challenge, helping others, the need for stability and the need for variety. Knowing which of these motivations matter most to you will allow you to measure both your current role and any potential future roles against your ideals.
You may find you don’t need to change jobs to make that career happen; it may be possible to make some changes where you are and get everything you need. Does your organisation have the scope and space for you to grow, both now and in the future? New opportunities are easier to find in an organisation that is growing and changing.
Like it or not, our careers do not operate in a vacuum. When we are deciding if we should change jobs we have to consider the practical elements of our working world. Do they work for you or do you need to make some changes?
Two of the three most commonly cited reasons for changing jobs are practical things: pay and conditions. The third is career progression, which we considered in the last question.
Where do you stand on the first two factors? Do you feel you are paid fairly for the work you do? Does your role give you the financial and other rewards you need and consider reasonable?
Do the conditions suit you? Do the hours work for you or does the work spill into the other areas of your life? Is your work commute what you consider reasonable? How does your role fit with your other life commitments, your family and your hobbies? Does your role give you the flexibility you want or need?
My two wonderful and talented nieces (OK, so I am a little biased – but only a little!) are at that stage in their education where they are expected to make decisions about their future careers and to choose courses and colleges accordingly.
I remember it all too well. It felt like a huge decision and one which, once made, was irrevocable – so the pressure to get it right was overwhelming.
Here is the thing I wish I had known then: deciding your future is not a one-time thing.
With the benefit of many, many years’ experience, I have come to understand how careers evolve, sometimes in a linear direction and sometimes with a radical jump sideways or a plot twist worthy of the most random of storytellers. Over the course of a working lifetime, many things will change, partly as we grow and partly as the world around us changes, technology developing with it. So even those who have known from an early age what their vocation is will experience a career full of changes.
Each day we show up at work we make decisions that shape our future; they may or may not be decisions we make consciously, but they do shape our careers. When you stop for a moment and reflect, you can probably see how choosing which pieces of work to focus on has shaped what you do today.
From time to time we all find ourselves wondering if we are on the right career path or where we want to be with our business. Is what we are doing now really what we want to be doing? Are we finding it fulfilling? Does it meet our needs and fit in with the rest of our lives?
This wondering can be triggered by any number of things, from a bad day at the office to something more significant like a change in family circumstance, such as having children. Sometimes this wondering is triggered by circumstances beyond your control, such as being made redundant. It might be a really clear thought or a vague feeling that something is not quite right.
No matter what caused you to start questioning if you are on the right career path, the good news is you can do something about it.
You could choose to continue as things are, letting your career continue to evolve, or you could decide to be more proactive and make some changes. Only you will know what is right for you but, to make that decision, you need to know if you are heading in the right career direction.
So how can you work out if you are on the right career path? Answering these three questions will help to you work it out.
Do you love what you do? Do you enjoy learning more about it? Are you inspired by other people in your field?
If you are not sure, take a moment to notice how you feel about it when you are talking to someone about what you do – are you passionate and animated or are you bored and uninspired? Remember it is not how other people react to what you do, it is how you feel about it that matters here.
Pragmatically, there are going to be aspects of your work you don’t love as much as others but, on balance, do you feel good about the work you do?
In their book, Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence, authors Tory Higgins and Heidi Grant Halvorson describe two types of motivational focus which impact how we approach our lives and careers.
We probably recognise some of each of those traits in ourselves, and probably know which is the more dominant for us. How aligned to your dominant focus is your career path, your job and your industry you work?
How well does your career fit with the other elements of your life? Is your career path providing you with the lifestyle you would like? Are you able to be based in your chosen location? Does it allow you to do the things you want and spend time with the people you want to spend time with?
Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to decide what, if any, changes you want to make in your career.
Working with a career coach can help you get clarity about what you want to change, how to make those changes happen and get you the results you want in the most efficient and effective way. To benefit from the Your Next Career Chapter package, book a call to discuss your requirements?
Well done, you’ve landed your dream job! You’ve celebrated your success and are getting ready to begin your new adventure, determined to be a huge success and make yourself indispensable to the business. They’ll soon be wondering how on earth they managed without you.
But mixed in with your excitement may be an element of trepidation. As the first day approaches, apprehension may begin to kick in and you may find yourself wondering how you can make your dream of success a reality.
As ever, the keys are preparation, clarity, focus and regular progress reviews. And you don’t need to wait for your first day to get going.
Based on my experiences with those about to start new roles, here are three things you can do before you even start your new job which will help you transition into the new role successfully and have you making a positive difference quickly.
Before starting your new job, take a moment to capture what excites you about the role, why you took the job, what it offers you and what you want to achieve. Being clear about what is important to you in that role will help you focus on the things that are going to make the biggest difference and which matter most.
Most people will have second thoughts at some point – often a couple of months into a new role – when they wonder why on earth they left their old job and thought this one was a good idea. At that moment, being able to remind yourself why you were excited about this role will help you manage that wobble and move forward constructively.
When you are starting a new job, you have a chance to redefine who you are as a leader. A fresh start with new people means you can magnify your leadership strengths and leave behind any traits you want to move on from. You can become the leader you want to be. Before your first day, spend some time thinking about your values and leadership style. What has worked well for you in the past and how can you leverage that in your new role?
We already know you want to be a success in this new role, but how will you know if you are a success? Take some time to pull together the information you already have about the organisation, the people you are going to be working for and with, and what they are hoping you will bring to the role. This will give you some strong clues about what success in this role looks like.
What else would you like to know and how much can you find out before you start? While it is important to keep an open mind, many people also find it helpful to have a framework or an approach in mind which will help them sift through everything they are learning and work out how they are going to make a positive impact quickly. What is your approach going to be?
Successful transition into a new role is a process which starts before the first day and which can take a few months. Supplementing the company induction with Executive Fast Start Coaching can make you more successful in less time. Book a free call and let’s discuss.
We all have bad days at work; days to make us question why we are doing the job we are doing. But because we know this is a normal part of working life, it’s easy not to notice when it becomes something more, a mid-career crisis.
Having a mid-career crisis is something that can hit anyone, regardless of their role, age or location. It impacts not just the individual but also their team, their company and their family. And those who feel it most acutely are often those who on the surface seem to have the least reason to feel the malaise that comes with it.
Research by Professor Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick (cited by Hannes Schwandt in the Harvard Business Review) found that job satisfaction is consistently at its lowest midlife and mid-career. The research also shows that satisfaction rises again towards the end of our careers where it often peaks higher than before it went into this slump.
Working with those who are having a mid-career crisis has shown me that how we experience it is different for each of us. Typically, however, we know we are experiencing it when we notice a cluster of the following indicators:
You’re contemplating your next career move and you know it’s no longer just about the money and status. Your job satisfaction is probably more important than your future compensation.
You rose to your current position relatively quickly and those successes came quite easily – but now you feel there is nowhere to go.
You don’t feel valued and your self-confidence is wavering.
You’re questioning if the next job move the company is proposing is really for you or if it takes you further away from your priorities and the elements of your current role that you enjoy.
You no longer feel the need to prove yourself at work.
You’re feeling passed over for the younger generation. How to develop and motivate them, and succession planning seem to be the only topics that get people management air time.
You’re not inspired, and you know you’re not at your best when you are not inspired.
You’re not learning anything, and it feels as if the job is the same old same old.
You’ve lost sight of your hopes, goals and dreams; what matters to you feels submerged.
You’ve felt in this slump/funk for a while and certainly more than is normal for you.
Recognising if you’re having a bad week or a mid-career crisis puts you in control of what you need to do next. Should you ride it out or work towards changing something? If you are contemplating changing something major, then take the time to reflect, plan and take considered actions. After all, you want to make sure you don’t end up with the same lack of satisfaction in what you decide to do next.
Landing a new job is a fantastic achievement, often the culmination of a lot of hard work. However, this is just the beginning; starting a new job is your next challenge and one you need to make a success of, and fast! Successfully transitioning into a new role is not easy; there are many potential traps and possible trip hazards you need to avoid along the way.
When you are starting a new job, especially if you are also joining a new organisation, you face that same situation, with everyone having different expectations about you and what you could and should be delivering.
This very dilemma is the first transition trap you face; managing people’s expectations in a new environment. When you start, you don’t know the organisation’s language, politics, or cultural norms. Great management of your key stakeholders is going to be vital and those stakeholders should include your new boss, your new team, your new customers (internal or external) and your peers.
And it is not just the people in your new organisation whose expectations you are going to have to manage. For a transition to be a total success when you’re starting a new job, it’s going to need to work in conjunction with other parts of your world, such as your family, friends and hobbies. Actively considering these and managing their expectations, and indeed your own, is also key if you are to avoid tripping up.
As well as the potential transition traps set by others, there are a host of potential hazards connected the organisation. When starting a new job, you won’t know how the organisation works, what its processes and practices are, how they use technology or how they expect to collaborate and make decisions.
And the final set of transition traps are all about you. Have you ever had a new colleague who soon alienated everyone by saying things like ‘When I was at my old company we did…’ and whose mind was not open to building on the good things your company already does? Or maybe one who just never seemed to learn about your organisation, or one who seemed to be trying to change everything before the end of their first week?
The good news is that avoiding these traps can be relatively simple, and uses skills which you will be familiar with as a leader. Here are three steps you can take to navigate your way to a successful transition.
Approach each day, each situation, each conversation with an open mind; listen to what is said and ask questions to clarify your understanding. Ask questions about the things that are not said. Remember you have a fresh pair of eyes and take a childlike curiosity into your new role and be prepared to ask about everything.
When starting a new job, really listening to people will give you the foundations on which to build strong relationships with your new colleagues. As with any change, uncertainty can make people concerned and worried. You can help alleviate those fears by listening to understand, building up the people around you and showing them that you value them.
Take time each day to review what you have heard to bring together the different things you have experienced. Capture what you are learning and ask yourself what it all means. As you get ready to plan, ask yourself what hypotheses are you forming about your new organisation?
As well as the medium and long-term plans you are formulating for your role, planning your approach to each day is especially important when you are starting a new job. This plan does not have to be complicated; try asking yourself these three questions:
Based on what you have found out so far, what else do you need to know about?
What questions do you still have and who is best placed to answer them for you?
What can I contribute today?
Both you and your new organisation have invested time and money in you starting in this new role, so you are both invested in your success. Approaching your new role in this way will allow you to avoid the job transition traps and position you to be a huge success, however you are defining that. While this three-step approach may look simple, like many things it is easier said than done, so it will require your conscious attention.
The support of a coach, and ideally one who is not a member of staff at your new organisation, can really unlock this process. Research has shown that senior managers who have just five sessions with an external coach during their first 12 weeks with an organisation are considered effective in their role in half the time it takes for those who do not to get up to speed. They are making a positive impact in their new organisation by the end of that period and are twice as likely to remain in the organisation for more than 2 years.
To learn how Bekka’s proven approach can help you be really successful when you are starting a new job